Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dream Cast for an Imaginary Movie: Shelley Duvall

Her performance as Millie in Three Women is brilliantly strange and touching, and after seeing behind the scenes footage of the Shining, you know she isn't just playing herself. Now, people like Stephen Soderbergh seem to revere her. If so, how come she gets these trifling little walk ons? See The Underneath: a nurse whose screen time lasts as long as it takes to administer a shot? What a phenomenal, inexcusable waste. Might as well not use her. At least not using her at all doesn't imply an intrinsic ambivalence regarding her abilities.

See Nashville, Brewster McCloud, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Popeye, The Shining, Bernice Bobs her Hair. See the "Making of" documentary on The Shining DVD, where Kubrick and Nicholson act like school boys on set. They get along swimmingly, while Kubrick has nothing but palpable disdain for Duvall, reducing her to a sniveling, painfully insecure mess, as if that were the only way to get a performance out of a woman. A man you can just drink with. A woman you have to terrorize. And yet in the documentary's interviews Duvall's so smart and engaged, totally aware of the game and her part in it, above it in a fascinating way, that Kubrick ends up looking like the ridiculous one.

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